Religion is a system of beliefs, practices and ethics that people practice to guide their daily lives. It deals with the idea of the supernatural or spiritual, about forces and powers beyond human control.
Definitions of religion vary, with some defining it as only a belief in god or a spiritual concept and others using it to refer to a broad set of cultural behaviors, norms and values. The term was coined by French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who used it to describe the various systems of belief and practice concerning what people consider to be sacred (Durkheim 1915).
Functions of religion
Social scientists generally agree that religion functions as a unified system of behaviour and ethics in which believers live by a code that sets out basic rules, including what is acceptable and what is not. These rules are based on the need to protect basic social needs and rights.
Another common function of religion is to provide a sense of belonging, especially in communities where individuals have a similar set of beliefs and values. This can lead to stronger social bonds between members of the same group and greater personal commitment to the community.
The third function of religion is to provide a sense that life has meaning and purpose, especially in times of uncertainty. This can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.
Religious people are also more satisfied with their lives and are more likely to report higher levels of happiness, even when they do not live in a highly religious society. In addition, religion can be helpful in rehabilitation from a variety of conditions and diseases, as it can provide a sense of purpose and motivation to take positive steps toward recovery.